Parker Braun gave ample consideration to completing his career with Georgia Tech. It was not an easy conclusion for the Yellow Jackets’ All-ACC guard to leave as a grad transfer. But, in his determination, it was the best choice for a variety of reasons.
“I’ve got tremendous respect for all of (the new coaches), and I do believe that they can have a lot of success in the future, especially coach (Geoff) Collins and coach (Brent) Key and all those guys,” Braun told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think they really know what they’re doing. But when it came down to it, I think because of grad school and various other factors, it just wasn’t the best fit for me personally.”
Braun’s decision to leave after three seasons – the past two of which earned him All-ACC honors – and in the wake of Collins’ hire came to light Jan. 25. He has taken an unofficial visit to Florida (with his younger brother Joshua, a rising high school senior from Live Oak, Fla.) and has an official visit planned for Texas for March 1. Braun said that “we’re still trying to work out something with Ohio State.”
While Braun said that Florida “seemed like a really good match,” he isn’t in a rush. He isn’t to the point where he would call Florida, Texas and Ohio State “finalists.” In fact, he said he was setting up an unofficial visit to Auburn.
“So it’s still completely up in the air, really,” he said.
When asked to explain his decision, grad school was the first reason that Braun gave. Braun has been serious about his education, three times earning academic All-ACC honors. He’ll graduate in May with a degree in literature, media and communication. He wanted to pursue a master’s in a liberal-arts field, and his choices at Tech were not to his liking. Braun said he’d like to study anthropology and has an idea of becoming a community-college professor when his football career is complete.
Transferring “opens a lot more doors as far as that goes,” he said.
The football side of the decision hinged on a variety of considerations, including not playing in coach Paul Johnson’s option offense, going through a transition to an all-new coaching staff, the opportunity to test himself in a different setting and preparing for the NFL.
“It’s hard for everybody when coaches change like this, regardless of the program,” Braun said. “But when you compound that on the fact of a whole new offensive system, a whole new coaching staff – not just the head coach, but everybody – it’s different.”
Transferring also “was an opportunity to play on a different team and test myself and my limits and see how good of a player I can be,” he said. “It’s also an opportunity to get more film against an entirely different schedule.”
He didn’t take lightly Tech’s switch away from the option, saying it was the reason he came to Tech. His father had played in an option offense at Army, as had his older brother Trey at Tech and he in high school.
Braun does not particularly enjoy the recruiting game, but has appreciated the attention from some of college football’s elite.
“Especially for a player who has kind of always doubted his abilities, it’s a little bit validating,” he said, “but it brings a whole new set of challenges up to the plate.”
Braun, 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, said he needs to gain strength and weight to play in a pro-style offense. (Braun is working out at Tech by himself at the Campus Recreation Center, slinging weights with the student body.) Braun said he’s also considering a switch to center, which may help his NFL prospects. Guards are typically bigger than centers.
Braun said that he’ll make his decision based on the schools’ grad-school programs, strength programs and fit with coaching staff and team.
“As I keep meeting people and talking to coaches and current players and stuff, just seeing what the best fit is – those are really the big three that’ll sort of come into play,” he said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.